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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Default Let's read every published D&D adventure! (The Palace of the Vampire Queen)

    Obvious spoilers, duh. This topic, like all the other "let's read" topics, is designed to entertain and inform. If you're a DM looking for some ye olde school material to draw from or are simply interested in the great history of this fine medium (good on you), then check out this little slice of gaming history. I'll try to go over one adventure/module per week but don't hold that against me!

    I will only be covering the more interesting aspects of the modules. I don't want to bore you nor do I want to tread on any legal toes! At one point, Pete Kerestan (the original author) reprinted the adventure in limited numbers. I don't know if that print will happen again but keep your eyes open. This is a great little chunk of history.

    Published: 1976
    Written By: Pete and Judy Kerestan
    Rarity: Stupidly so. Expect to pay at least $300 for any edition.

    This is it right here. This little baby represents the first published adventure for Dungeons & Dragons. Although Arneson's Temple of the Frog predates this module by a few months, DMGK#1 is the first adventure published as a standalone module. It's not until 2 years later when Gygax releases the G# series that TSR adapts the term "module."

    The original, 1st print cover. The other more common (well, common for a stupidly rare game) covers are the blank, yellow 2nd edition cover and yellow-with-tower-art-and-crude-title 3rd edition cover.

    Detailed in this book are "dank and darkened chambers of the Tomb Stronghold of the Vampire Queen of Baylor." The one page intro immediately gets you pumped to go on some dungeon delving incursions. On the dwarvish [sic] island of Baylor, some wicked bitch of the west has descended upon the poor lands of King Arman, Ruler of Baylor, Defeater of the Ten Orc Tribes. Going so far as to kidnap the good dwarf's children including the fair dwarf princess (whose beard is made from golden hair), the poor citizens hope and pray that a band of robbers, plunderers, and killers arrive to take care of business and totally screw up their economy in the process.

    Psst... that's where you come in.

    Palace is 24 pages (depending on your print version) of maps and room keys detailing 5 floors of dungeons. Back in the day, dungeons were ranked by how many floors they had. Think of it like playing a roguelike; most of the time you encounter specific monsters on each floor but a dastardly DM could very well toss in a few "out-of-level" encounters to spice things up (especially DM's who submit to the Linley's Dungeon Crawl method of design). Remember, prior to 3E it was expected for you to judge and prepare to run from nearly everything you encounter. After all, it was very possible Bob the Fighter, decked out in shiny plate mail as he might have been, could have 1hp.

    Room #6 gives us the first example of a hireling; a "chaotic, good" (which is very odd considering OD&D lacked a good/evil alignment) warrior who joins you if you heal him. What's that? NPCs can join my party! Blasphemy, they'll steal my XPs! Well, you need everyone you can get and the warrior kindly warns you of a rust monster in Room #8. Owing to clever, conscious design, the writers were kind enough to have a well stocked armory a few rooms back in case too much is destroyed in this fight. Of course, unscrupulous DM's could say "Well, the rust monster would probably smell the armory from a mile away so... yeah..."

    These encounters are great. Your encounters are bad. Why don't you make your encounters more like these, huh?

    Rooms #17 and #18 are awesome. 25 house cats happen to be chilling out with a crazy cat lady man. He kindly tells you of secret doors but attacking him results in a horrible death as all the cats descend upon your poor party in a scene reminiscent of death-by-cuckoos in most Legend of Zelda games. One has to wonder why the Vampire Queen or any of the dozens of monsters inhabiting the dungeon haven't feasted on the cats. Then again, 3E has taught us to never underestimate a house cat. Using 3E's ruling, 25 cats equates to an ECL of 5; that's more dangerous than a vampire spawn!

    Room #43 contains a gelatinous cube. Cutting him open reveals a silver crucifix. Let this serve as a warning for those door-to-door jerks who interrupt you in the evenings!

    Level 2, Room #3 contains a lawful conjurer. Exactly what this guy is doing here is unsure but he offers his assistance dispatching some orcs before going back to exactly what he was (or wasn't) doing previously. A blink dog, which is apparently the conjurer's pet, will aid in combat but he's located in a completely different room. What either master and pet are doing in a dank, dark dungeon surrounded by monsters is a mystery that can only be solved by stabbing everything you see and stealing its treasure. They're likely fuming over the evil necromancer in Room #28 who's conducting experiments by himself. His zombie thrall are scattered about playing dominos and kick the head and other zombie-thrall games.

    Room #29 is absolutely brilliant. A treasure chest contains some nice potions and treasure. Unfortunately, opening the chest drops a block from the ceiling which kills everyone in a 3x9' radius of the chest (no, don't roll that saving throw, you're dead son!) Look at that figure right there. 3x9'. Let this be a note to all adventurers; the 10' pole is your absolute best friend. Treat him well for the only thing greater than a 10' pole is an 11' pole.

    Level 3 Room #2 has the rather stark depiction of dwarf child husks, drained of their blood and left for ghouls. Strangely enough the ghouls also happen to be werewolves. Don't ask. Room #10 and #11 are fantastic. An evil wizard has set up his own magic shop in the dungeon. I assume he expects to make a killing from passing adventurers and a killing he does make. Anyone foolish enough to investigate his room will be put to sleep by gas in his urns, killed, and stripped. If encountered, you don't fight him, oh no, he simply trades three random magic items before walking away while shaking his fists.

    Room #13 has 5 dwarf children ghouls. Lot of dark, disturbing things on this floor. We must be reaching the end! Room #16 is absolutely strange and, if anything, proves that the dungeon's cats are more dangerous than any monster. A mother lynxx (misspelling intentional) and her 4 kittens can automatically detect evil out to 12 feet. These paladittens, if taken, develop a telepathic bond with their kidnapper and raise his morale by 3 points! Strange... but cool nonetheless.

    I call room #29 the Holy Ark room. Opening the lone chest in this room unleashes an unlimited number of wights until closed again. Closing your eyes won't save you. Level 4 Room #1 is inhabitated by a stone lammasu with a missing eye. Returning it nets you another ally, huzzah! Room #24 is one of the oddest; a garden of garlic grows here. You'd think Mrs. Vampire Queen would've destroyed it by now but, like the other assorted monsters, it's clear she doesn't mind guests provided they tidy up every once in a while.

    The maps look like a child's crude scrawling. I'm pretty sure I made the exact same maps while playing old PC games like Wizardry and Might & Magic.

    Level 5 is absolutely ridiculous. We've gone from fighting weak undead, goblins, gnolls, and various generic low-level monsters to a flippin Balrog (the balor before Tolkien's holdings wagged a naughty finger at TSR forcing them to reprint OD&D as the "Oringal Collector's Edition) wielding a mace of disruption in Room #5 and a flesh golem in Room #6. Screw the vampire queen, these guys are the biggest badasses of them all. Why the balrog hasn't taken over is beyond me but I guess the Vampire Queen's nagging keeps him in check.

    Rooms #11 and #13 give us more child-violence as we find capture dwarf children and the ogres who're actively slaughtering them to make blood pudding. More ridiculousness abounds with a fire-trapped chest that inflicts 6d60 points of damage to everyone within 5', another flesh golem, and a truckload of vampires. A human oracle in Room #24 will tell the "reverse of truth" to any question. I guess it's helpful if you figure her out but it's better if you killed her just to be safe.

    The climactic adventure ends in Room #30 when you encounter the Vampire Queen. She's a powerful figure with 40 hit points! That's only 1 less than the Balor a few rooms back! If the door isn't shut behind the party she escapes in bat form and threatens the dwarven princess assuming the party hasn't rescued her yet. The Vampire Queen gets that pissed off at rude adventurers who were apparently raised in a barn. Next time you step foot into the dark queen's lair be sure to wipe your shoes and hang up your traveler's cloak. It wouldn't be too much to have you remove your boots as well; she's doing the whole Japanese thing after all.

    Palace of the Vampire Queen is "Gygaxian" before Gygax put pen to paper and made a style out of it. This massive dungeon crawl provides some 304 monsters and about a 100,000+ gp worth of treasure to find. You will laugh, you will cry, you will die over, and over again. The game's short print run and relative obscurity have left it in the dark but this is the quintessential "dungeon crawl" before there was ever a definition of dungeon crawl.

    Rating: Too-awesome-for-thou

    Up Next: Either Temple of the Frog or Dungeon Master's Kit #2: Dwarven Glory... whichever my sister decides to mail to me so I can read from these things.
    Last edited by jmbrown; 2010-09-13 at 10:47 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
    Oracle_Hunter's Avatar

    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Chicago, IL

    Default Re: Let's read every published D&D adventure! (The Palace of the Vampire Queen)

    Your grognardian lore intrigues me. I wish to subscribe to your newsletter
    Lead Designer for Oracle Hunter Games
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Default Re: Let's read every published D&D adventure! (The Palace of the Vampire Queen)

    You may start here. There used to be a massive archive of TSR's published material but it appears to be gone for good. I was thinking about doing something just like it (only a bit more organized) and even categorizing all the AD&D video games (which I collect) but that's a pretty huge undertaking.

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